A Hillsborough County man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for DUI manslaughter, violation of probation and driving while revoked, habitual offender. Charles Peoples likely faced a relatively long sentence for the charges but that likelihood was probably increased when he allegedly tried to move his fatally injured wife into the driver’s seat and blame her for the accident.
Already on probation for habitually driving with a revoked license, Peoples was intoxicated when he crashed into another car on Interstate 75. His wife of 32 years was fatally injured. Though it’s not clear exactly when Wanda Peoples died, prosecutors accused Charles Peoples of cutting her seatbelt and trying to push her into the driver’s seat.
Charles Peoples denies trying to implicate his wife. “I never hurt my wife,” he said. “I never made her do anything she didn’t want to do.”
The crash happened in late November, 2010, near Exit 240A in Hillsborough County. Charles Peoples pleaded guilty to the charges. He also presented evidence to the court that he has battled substance abuse problems involving alcohol, cocaine and heroin for more than 40 years.
Peoples’ blood alcohol level was .204, more than twice the legal limit for intoxication. His criminal history included drug and robbery convictions as well as several driving while revoked convictions.
Peoples dismissed his attorney, representing himself. He initially pleaded not guilty, then switched to a guilty plea rather than go to trial. But then he tried to withdraw his plea but was refused by the judge. The court ultimately sentenced Peoples to the maximum sentence allowed by law.